VIOLENCE, abuse, threats and heavily intoxicated teenagers.
Hang on, that was intoxicated adults acting like intoxicated teenagers.
What we’re talking here is “Mary’s’’ ordeal aboard the 350 bus to Swansea Heads on New Year’s night, which she said left her traumatised and her daughter ‘‘physically shaking’’.
The yarn made quite a splash in the Herald and drew much reaction.
To recap, first of all a bunch of drunken teenage misfits got on and made the ride uncomfortable for all the passengers.
Then they got off and a replacement idiot got on and tried to calm down the distressed passengers from the first bunch of morons.
But the second individual only succeeded in arousing the father of one of the passengers and eventually the bus pulled over and the two punched on while other passengers rang the cops.
Sounds farcical and possibly amusing from a distance, but having endured a situation like that aboard a Lovedale bus some years ago, I can assure it’s far from it. Quite intimidating, in fact.
And to those who cause this type of uninivited unease, you usually feel nothing but ... how to put it? ... contempt. But probably not as much contempt as the perpetrators are showing you. Not that you say it at the time because they might glass you.
Welcome to Joe Public on the drink these days on the buses, and possibly on a heap of other things.
It’s a bit of a worry.
The incident for some confirmed in their mind what Australia is all about – bogan nation.
Others felt it was more a typically Newcastle problem. Other’s went even further to narrow it down to Lake Macquarie.
It would be interesting to see which local region readers thought stood out in this regard.
At various stages through the years, various areas have pressed their claims.
You’re only as good as your last headline.
Maybe it’s just teenagers doing what teenagers do in a power vacuum – run amok.
If only it were as simple as blaming the kids, though. These days you can’t rule the adults out. In fact, it’s hard to distinguish between the two, based on behaviour.
And chances are you’ll put yourself in the line of fire if you try.
Just look what happened to that guy who got abused after taking offence to two hooligans who urinated inside a train down in Melbourne recently.
I couldn’t believe he had a problem with that.
It seems now, more than ever, people will do what they think they can get away with. Maybe we need to look internationally for social control solutions.
A North Korean-type purge, perhaps.
A Vladimir Putin Pussy Riot holiday in Siberia.
A Russell Packer-like line in the sand from authorities, if the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
Unfortunately, in most cases, that doesn’t seem to happen. It’s a busy world out there full of shenanigans and the cops can only be in so many places at once.
One solution mooted was to stop the bus every time there was trouble and not move until the police came.
But with the growing amount of incidents, that may bring the whole public transport system to a standstill.
Maybe we could raise the drinking age to 21 ... because 16-year-olds who get blind when the drinking age is 18, will certainly baulk when it’s pushed up another couple of years, right? I think not.
Perhaps a breathalyser before you’re allowed on. Fail, and you’re walking home.
Local residents, like the ones who live near Hunter Stadium and have their garden gnomes stolen every time there’s a Knights and Jets home game, would appreciate that.
If decent people don’t feel safe any more because society is losing track of its moral values, maybe we need some righteous group with a solid concept of right and wrong. Anyone got the Taliban’s number?
Name and shaming might help. If we could catch the offenders on CCTV. If we had CCTV. And the offenders had shame.
The message for some is that if you’re off your face on drugs or alcohol, you should stay home, but that hardly seems fair. A lot of people do that at home before they head into town.
Maybe it’s time they bring back the conductor. One with a black belt. A Mr T/Dirty Harry-type enforcer who will process your ticket and give the impression any antics would make his or her day ... so go ahead punk, just gotta ask yourself one question ... do you feel lucky? Well do ya? Sit dowwwwwn.
Maybe it’s just a school holiday issue.
Come February, the perpetrators will be back in class giving their teachers what they gave the travelling public.
Most times I ride public transport, things go well. But of course you only need to feel threatened once, like Mary was, to question what the hell is going on with the world.
Chances are it’s never been any better or worse. But it doesn’t seem so at the time.